Obtain A Nail Sample

How To Obtain A Nail Sample

How To Obtain A Sample From Your Nail(s)

To obtain your sample, you must first gather the following items:

  1. Nail Clipper or Cuticle Nipper: To trim sections of the nail to submit sample.
  2. Disposable Vinyl Gloves: To prevent contamination of nail sample.
  3. Metal Nail File: To file the top of the nail to obtain samples of the superficial debris if present.
  4. Emery Board: To file off any suspected part of the nail you cannot trim easily.
  5. Disinfectant: Use Bleach to disinfect your instruments.
  6. A small Ziploc plastic baggie: To collect the nail trimmings & any superficial or subungual debris under the nail.


What will affect your nail sample purity that you submit?

Do not use dirty, non-disinfected nail clippers or nippers or nail files. The best samples are collected with autoclaved clippers or nippers. If no autoclave is available or your salon cannot sterilize them for you, then proceed as follows:

  1. First wash the nippers/clippers/metal nail file with soap and water, then proceed below.
  2. If you have a pressure cooker, pressure cook instruments for 20 minutes to achieve similar results as an autoclave. If you do not have a pressure cooker go to next slide to see what liquid disinfectant options are available.
  3. If using liquid, only use tools to take a sample once they are dry.
  4. Wash hands and wear disposable gloves to prevent sample contamination.

Liquid Disinfectants

If you are using a liquid disinfectant, brush-clean the instruments first in soap and water then soak the instruments in 91% Alcohol, Barbicide or any intermediate level quaternary ammonium compound or bleach for 10 minutes and then completely dry the instrument. (Bleach can corrode instruments with repetitive use).

If you do not dry the instrument and use an instrument that is still wet with disinfectant, you may destroy the sample's microorganisms and degrade the DNA that you are trying to test.

Only once the instruments are completely dry, may you then use these disinfected nippers to collect the sample.

Collection of Sample

The collection bag should be the sample bags we supply or a new clean small Ziploc baggie to submit your sample.

Do NOT clean the nail plate with culture growth inhibitors such as: acetone, antiseptics, antifungal ointments, creams or gels before you take trimming of your nail.

Avoid leaving alcohol, betadine, hibiclines, or soap and water residue on your instruments to avoid destroying active organisms prior to sampling and submission of your sample to test. Dry all surfaces first before sampling.

Wash hands and wear disposable gloves to prevent sample contamination.

Obtaining a Sample

The sample should be taken from the part of the nail that is most involved. If you can acquire debris underneath and/or superficial debris from the top of the nail plate without injury, it will improve the analysis.


You are obtaining simple trimmings of the nail from the leading edge of the nail closest to the discolored or thickened part of the nail without causing injury or pain. You must submit all debris that comes off when trimming the nail.

Any crumbling parts of the nail, or any scrapings from the top of the nail, and/or particles from under the nail that you can safely obtain should be included with any trimmings, crumbling nail, or any section of thick nail you can submit.


S - Sterilize or disinfect instruments before taking sample
A - Acquire best sample of nail and or nail debris under the nail to submit
M - Make efforts to not injure the nail bed or skin surrounding the nail
P - Pack, collect and ship the sample in a clean plastic bag
L - Learn treatment options from qualified medical professionals
E - Evaluate report for results

When you receive your results of the nail report, and if you have any questions not answered by your personal physician, we look forward suggesting what you need to do next if we hear from you.


You are getting a representative sample only. You are NOT performing a deep biopsy of the nail or nail bed, but simply are sampling the nail clippings, or trimmings!

Do not proceed with this test, and do seek Medical Care if the nail is painful or infected with or without drainage. Especially if you are a high risk patient with diabetes, vascular disease. immune system issues (like HIV, genetic disorders like Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritics or other immune or viral disorders) to prevent potential infections leading to hospitalizations or death.

Do not cut skin or cut past the hyponychium (the base of the free edge of the nail) or nail bed unless the nail has lifted past it’s connection to the nail bed over time. Do not force or apply pressure to the nail plate or nail bed to obtain a sample.

Care should be taken not to injure the nail bed or cause injury or bleeding to the surrounding skin around the nail.

Need to know your treatment options? Talk to one of our specialist!